Absolute luxury is swimming in the world's highest hotel pool, on the 118th floor of The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong. As you do your 20-metre laps, a working fire to one side, there may be a video showing on the LED screen that covers the entire ceiling of this area. There will certainly be a video showing, however, when you do your 20-metre laps at Ritz-Carlton, Beijing, Financial Street - here, one end of the pool room shows non-stop retro black and white movies of the genre on which the current Oscar-winning The Artist was based.
When it comes to hotels in their entirety, two newcomers fit the absolute luxury category. The 78-room Bulgari Hotel & Residences London opens this June, a few yards west of One Knightsbridge. Outstanding features, designed by Antonio Citterio, include a massive all-floor lobby that features a prominent display of Bulgari silver and an eight-metre oval bar seamlessly formed of polished stainless steel. Nearby, a 20-metre floor cut-out reveals the lower-floor Italian restaurant, reached via 24 gracefully curving stairs. The other design beauty, opening May 17th, 2012, is The Palace Hotel Tokyo. This is a complete new-build, and all 290 rooms have Imperial Palace views (50 percent have balconies with seating). Designer GA International's rooms and public spaces follow Japanese love of space and soft colours: restaurants, designed by Ryu Kosaka, feature stunning natural materials, including hand-sculpted undulating wood floors.
Japan already offers sensational luxury dining. At Gordon at Conrad Tokyo, chef Shinya Maeda comes out to suggest his favourite Trio of black pig with aubergine, basil and dry cider. Japanese, in the form of MEGU, is top favourite, in New York (two restaurants), Moscow (Hotel Lotte), Doha (The Pearl) and Delhi (Leela Palace Chankyapuri). MEGU restaurants feature theatrical décor, world-beating sushi, and Kobe beef flambéed with Hennessy. Flambéeing obviously not allowed airborne, but British Airways' First Class menus feature dishes designed by Simon Hulstone, winner of the airline's Great Britons culinary award - try his Salad of golden beets on peppered goats curd, with watercress and elderflower dressing, in honour of the last London Olympics, in 1948.